Nepal, Thakuri period – various buddhas

10th-11th century, Nepal, Ratnasambhava, gilt copper, at the Walters Museum of Art (USA).

10th-11th century, Nepal, Ratnasambhava, gilt copper, at the Walters Museum of Art (USA).

Ratnasambhava, with a buddha appearance, holds his hands in the dhyana and varada mudra. He is seated in the vajra position on a double-lotus base with very broad petals and a row of stamens at the top. His robe covers the left shoulder. He has a small face with slit eyes, placed low down, and a tiny oval chin with a slit smile.

11th-12th century, Nepal, Ratnasambhava, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Christie's.

11th-12th century, Nepal, Ratnasambhava, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

Coiffed with a crown made of three leaf panels (close to each other and going inward) and decorated with bows, Ratnasambhava wears bodhisattva jewellery -usually quite bulky during the Thakuri period-, a broad sash and an ankle-length dhoti. He is seated in the vajra position on an unusual double-lotus base with very flat petals, and no sepals.

Same as before, Vairocana, gilt copper alloy with cold gold and pigments added later in Tibet, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (USA).

Same as before, Vairocana, gilt copper alloy with cold gold and pigments added later in Tibet, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (USA).

One fist placed over the other, Vairocana in his bodhisattva appearance is seated on a large double-lotus base with broad petals and sepals. We will note that on all these pedestals the two rows of petals don’t face each other, a feature often seen on Nepalese sculptures from the Licchavi and Thakuri periods.

11th century, Nepal or Tibet, Akshobhya, gilt copper alloy, at the Norton Simon Museum (USA).

11th century, Nepal or Tibet, Akshobhya, gilt copper alloy, at the Norton Simon Museum (USA).

Akshobhya calls Earth to witness with the right hand (bhumisparsha mudra) and does the gesture of prayer with the other. This type of richly gilt sculpture depicting a dhyani buddha in buddha appearance, with a pleated robe covering one shoulder and seated on a plain plinth, originates from Nepal but the broad forehead of the above suggests it may have been made in Tibet, for a Tibetan patron. This style came back to fashion in Tibet during the 17th century.

12th century, Nepal, Kathmandu Valley, Akshobhya, copper with cold gold, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (USA).

12th century, Nepal, Kathmandu Valley, Akshobhya, copper with cold gold, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (USA).

Akshobhya is seated on a flat double-lotus base over a throne covered with a cloth and supported by lions. There is an upright vajra decorated with bows at the front and a row of broad lotus petals over a plain plinth under the throne. He wears a transparent plain garment with a broad hem. If we draw a line from each upper extremity of the throne to the finial on his head, we get an isosceles triangle which itself contains a triangle formed by the body and the lotus base.

11th century, Nepal, Vajrasattva, gilt copper alloy, at the St Louis Art Museum (USA).

11th century, Nepal, Vajrasattva, gilt copper alloy, at the St Louis Art Museum (USA).

Vajrasattva holds a diamond thunderbolt (vajra) horizontally at heart level and a vajra-handled bell (ghanta) against his left hip. A slightly serrated flaming halo is fastened to his back. The foliate panels of his crown are set wide apart.

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